Confessions from the Back Room of the Car Lot’s Finance Department

No Credit, Bad Credit, Okay. “We Finance Anyone.” “Buy With No Money Down.” “Trade Your Car In: Stupid Buyer On Duty.” These are the typical signs you might find plastered to the entrances and the lampposts of used car lots. Surrounded by miles of colored triangle flags and helium-filled balloons, the allure of the lot is visible from any blurred landscape adjacent to most major highways. While some drivers rubberneck to view an accident in hopes of seeing squashed body parts, others turn their heads towards the car lot for a glimpse of this year’s new makes and models. Next week’s paycheck is quickly calculated in hopes for a down payment to drive one home as the image of the sleazy salesman drifts in and out of the daydream.

But when it comes to buying a car, it’s not the sales people that one has to be cautious of. The truth is that most of these salespeople don’t even own a car; they get rides from their friends or ride the public transportation bus to work. It’s expected for them not to know what they are talking about other than the few lines they have memorized describing the car’s automatic features and anti-lock braking system, find more info. The techniques have been practiced so that when test-driving the car, the sounds of the engine cannot be heard over the loud rock music. Being lied to by the salespeople about the quality of a car’s transmission or its dependability is really the least of anyone’s worries.

Confessions from the Back Room

It’s the fellows in the back office that are never seen or heard that are the ones to be truly leery of. These individuals are the ones who have the power to change the price of a multi-track CD player by thousands of dollars. Tucked somewhere in between the restroom and showroom area, these guys sit behind locked doors that often require a secret pass code to get in. Inside, the finance department is housed with dingy low lighting and a mixed miasma of years-old collected filth and stale coffee. If you could tough out the stench, you will find that there are sexy pictures of cars and typical trade-in offers stuck to the walls along with a variety of reasons for declining – all as though it were this month’s pin-up girl.

There are only a few people that are privy to the secretive action that takes place in this back room. One is the owner of the car lot and the other one is the trade-in “expert” who acts more like a customs agent inspector with a clipboard. The inspector is trained to find everything that is wrong with the cars brought in for a trade-in – from the sliver-sized dent underneath the lock to the clinking sound of the fuel pipe that was never heard of until now. Most every car ends up having very little or no resale value. Instead of receiving cash, the inspector promises that by trading in the beat up old rust bucket of a jalopy for “parts,” he’ll get the best annual percentage rates closest to the market’s prime just for “thinking of us.” After a little finagling, the papers are signed, the car keys are turned in and then the accountant takes over.

The accountant’s computer screen is set up like a bazaar of interest rates where the numbers are changing rapidly. Like a virtual-reality stock market, people from all ends of the world are huddled around their computers waiting for a car application while smoking cheap cigars and “hoping” to finance your automobile for you. It’s as though these jolly good fellows are placing bets with the interest rates being the grand prize for the taking. The accountant member is sitting at his desk placing quotes on the price of your automobile waiting for someone to electronically accept the bids or raise the ante. This can go on in point-for-point increments for what might end up being a long time. In the end, whatever amount gets financed between the markup and the actual amount your car costs goes straight into the pocket of the car dealership.

Unscrupulous as it seems, this painfully slow process helps to contribute to the fact that buying a new car could take anywhere from a few hours to all day, making the car buying experience exhausting for both the customer and the salesperson. The car salesman’s secondary job is to come up with the best way to pamper the customer to stay long enough while the finance department “approves” the loan. The customer is weary of leaving the premises for fear of having the sale lost (besides, there are only so many bags of popcorn one can eat).

Car Lot's Finance Department

So what can be done to save time and money when buying a car? First of all, researching the car online or through materials sent from the manufacturer’s website saves a lot of hassle by not having to deal with a salesperson. The consumer reports and online forums are a great way to learn about any problems other people have experienced with the car before buying it. The car salesman should actually be the last stop to make and done so only when one is ready to drive the new car off the lot.

To save time with the finance department, leasing the car is a simple option that’s available to people with varying degrees of credit. The worse the credit, the higher the down payment will be, of course. If one truly wishes to finance the purchase of an automobile, it’s better to first get approved for a line of credit from a bank or to take out a personal loan in order to pay cash for the automobile. By doing so, the buyer also gains the leverage to negotiate a lower price tag on the car. Just remember to stoically use the standard car lot negotiation line…”If I do that… Will you do this today…”?

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for entertainment purposes only. Before making any decision that may affect your finances or credit, consult your personal financial advisor, accountant, attorney, and/or respected clergy.

Robert William